Saturday, 25 February 2012

Gateau st Honore

Gateau st Honore- a classic French cake which was named for the Bishop of Amiens, Saint Honorius, in the sixth century and the French patron saint of pastry cooks (can you tell I've been doing my research?). There is also a street in Paris that bears his name; the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore - a street that I did pass by on my trip to Paris last year. Anyway, before I bore you all too much with the history, I'll tell you a little about what this extravagant gateau actually is!

The gateau consists of a puff pastry base, topped with a swirl of choux pastry which is piped from the centre of the base in a spiral outwards, and little choux buns dipped in caramel dotted around the outer edge. It is then finished with creme patisserie and spun sugar.

It is quite a challenging dessert to make, as there are so many different components involved, but time can be saved by preparing the pastry and filling in advance, which then just leaves the assembling. Of course you can save even more time by buying the ready-to-roll puff pastry, but I assure you that it is incredibly satisfying making your own, and the quality is far better than what you can buy in the shops.

There are quite a few variations you can make on this gateau- I have seen recipes that use shortcrust pastry for the base, fresh fruit fillings and even salted caramel choux buns. I stuck to a fairly classic recipe which I took from Michel Roux's book 'Desserts'. Michel makes a black and white gateau which calls for both vanilla and chocolate chantilly cream in the centre, giving a two-tone striped finish (hence the name). I'm not a fan of whipped cream, so instead I made both vanilla and chocolate creme patisserie for my topping, which I also used to fill each choux bun.

I used generous amount of caramel to coat my choux buns (since I have a very sweet tooth!) and used this to stick them to the puff pastry base. I also attempted to make a sugar cage to by drizzling caramel over a greased plastic bowl but unfortunately it broke into pieces once I tried to remove it! Nevertheless, I still used the broken bits to sit on top of the gateau, and actually, it doesn't look too bad!

Overall, I thought this dessert was a winner but it does tend to go a little soggy after a while so is best eaten fairly quickly after assembling, which is not exactly too difficult to do!

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